Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the HTC Vive virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) is the partnership that made it possible. The Taiwanese smartphone maker has partnered with none other than Half-Life developer Valve to create the kit. The legendary company was thought to be simply assisting Oculus VR in its pursuit of consumer VR, making the announcement all the more shocking. But how did this unlikely team-up come about? That’s something that Dana Nicholson, Executive Director of HTC’s Advanced Concept Group explained to VRFocus shortly after the kit’s reveal earlier in the year.
“Valve’s had a long history of doing a lot of laboratory studies around VR,” Nicholson noted in an interview that will be published in full later this week. “So we really sort of– we were sort of watching them and a lot of the stuff that they demoed last year at dev days was a big breakthrough. And so that’s where we started to follow, track them a little bit and further conversations where we got to see some of their breakthrough technologies, especially around the Room Scale laser tracking stuff. Gosh we were excited and so we brought our whole team on board and we’ve been working very fast ever since.”
The ‘dev days’ that Nicholson is referring to are the Steam Dev Days that took place at the developer’s offices in Seattle, Washington in early 2014. It was here that Valve revealed its VR room, which consisted of an HMD that tracked various markers plastered on the walls and ceilings. This allowed for true user tracking within VR experiences, a concept which has since been adapted into SteamVR with the help of a laser-based solution known as Lighthouse. This kit is part of the HTC Vive, allowing for Room Scale user tracking in areas of up to 15 feet by 15 feet.
The HTC Vive is expected to launch in full in time for holiday 2015. VRFocus will continue to follow the title closely, reporting back with any further updates on its progress.